begin to look for these fish along the bayside of the Eastern Shore. The Cabbage Patch,
near the Concrete Ships, is the prime area. Bouy 13, near the high rise of the Chesapeake
Bay Bridge Tunnel, has been productive as has the area around 36A, off of Cape Charles.
When the fish are running, you can find the fleet of anchored boats.
These fish are not great fighters, but they can weighover 100 pounds so fairly heavy
tackle is in order. 30 lb class is about right. These fish can usually be fought from
anchor but if you are using light tackle, having a float attached to your anchor line is a
good precaution in case you have to chase a fish.
Terminal tackle consist of a fish finder rig with enough weight
to hold bottom. The leader to your hook is usually 60-80 pound monofilament but wire can
be used if sharks are a problem. Hook size can vary based on your bait, 8/0 is a good
place to start. Baits are clam and crab, used separately or together on the same hook.
Circle hooks work well with clam baits, I don't like them as well with crab baits. Hard
crab will work, softshells are considered best, often combined with a clam. Peeler crab is
great and stays on the hook better than softshell, especially if there are bait stealers
around. Pop the top off the peeler and thread your hook in through a leg socket. The whole
crab can be used or it can be cut in half to make two baits. A rubber band can be used to
hold the legs of the crab to the shank of the hook. Rubber bands are also used to help
hold clam baits on the hook but I have not figured that one out yet. I just take an entire
chowder clam and pass the hook through the foot and then back through the body of the
clam. Any dangling pieces are threaded onto the hook. This works fine for me.
Rods are usually fished from the
rod holders, light drags and clickers on. Close attention needs to be payed to your lines.
These big fish often have gentle bites and can take your bait if you are not alert. When
one bites, hesitate to allow the fish to get the hook in its mouth and set the hook. With
a circle hook, hesitate longer and then just start reeling. This fishery usually is at its
peak in May and June.
During this same time period,
these fish are caught by surf fishermen along the seaside of the Eastern Shore. They are
also caught up on the shoals near the northern section of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
at night. Red drum are also caught in these same areas and by the same methods. Fish baits
are good for red drum, clam is good for black drum, crab is good for both.
Fish baits are not considered
good baits for black drum but artificials that mimick fish can be used to catch them.
Spoons trolled around the shoals for red drum will also catch blacks. Some are caught
every year by striper fishermen pulling Stretch 25+s.
A more recent fishery has
developed around the islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. All four islands can
have drum but the 2nd and 3rd are the most consistent. Most of these fish are caught by
casting bucktails with curly tailed grubs. The lure is retrieved just fast enough not to
get snagged. The fish can often be seen up near the rocks or circling in a school around
the island. These fish spook easily. You can try to move your boat to them or you can be
anchored and wait for them to come to you. Chumming the area with crushed clam will
improve your odds. I have had good luck lobbing a whole chowder clam on a hook with no
additional weight in front of the roaming school. Early and late in the day are the best
times. If the boat traffic is heavy, these fish get very hard to catch.
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